I have had some losses over the last few months. Several aunts and uncles, good eggs, in their 80s and 90s, have passed away. Of natural causes, I might add, rather than sudden tragedy; it was their time, and in some cases an end to suffering.
But Covid has exacted a heavy toll. We as an extended family have not been able to gather, sing, share stories, celebrate lives well lived, share a glass, and renew bonds. As I come to middle age, these things begin to matter more and more.
So I ask, as a speculation: in these times, in the absence of community, how do we properly mourn and celebrate?
This is a very good question.
My only brother turns 60 in August, he rented a place in Santa Fe with a big house and smaller houses on the property for the family to come for a few days and have a celebration. He paid non-returnable money in February. And it is not going to happen. My mom is very sad, her only son, her first born, and she is not going to be there. How do we cope? We haven't figured it out yet. Me and mom have no tech or bandwidth for a zoom call, if they decided to do one, we'll find someone who we can use their system to do it.
But it hurts.
And we are absolutely not going to say "oh everything is fine, of course we are going!" We know better than that, me and mom have been very careful about exposure, she's 82, I'm immune system damaged.
But it hurts.
I was just talking to a friend about this. She, like me, has lost some older relatives; the extended family lives together, but they haven't been able to carry out their usual rituals.
I have lived far from my family for most of my life and only visit every year or so, so my family experience is already kind of surreal. My grandparents and best friend in the US died suddenly while I was abroad, none of them had wakes or open ceremonies, and it still hasn't really registered. 5 years on, I still pull up Skype to call my grandmother to call her when I see something I know she would find hysterical.
It's like they just "blinked out", when you're distanced, and I think this is going to be pretty common as we can't go about our usual rituals we have to deal with death. Like you said, getting the family together was an important part of how we processed loss and who we are.
It would be nice to say that "once this is all over we will have a great shebang" but.... I am going to melodramatically ask if this will ever be over. For the foreseeable future I don't see my family being thrilled about me coming from Brazil, and I certainly would not be thrilled about going to visit the folks in Florida. Not even getting into the fact that most of us are polar opposites in terms of beliefs, politics, etc....
(Pearl, I hear you. Mr Okava just turned 50 last month. We were planning to throw a big party in September, when there is a 3-day weekend, invite our friends and family from all over, we even made the beer for pete's sake. It's been cancelled, thank goodness we didn't put down the deposit on the farm we were going to rent out for the weekend. I'm hoping by September we can at least go to the beach for the weekend, but it seems like a stretch)
Don't destroy the earth! That's where I keep all my stuff! Including this tiny ad: